This weekend was date weekend. We decided to spend some quality time together in our local area. It was time to get some of those `local, I’ll do it at some stage I promise’ things ticked off that list.
The opener was a trip to the top of Hinomiyama, the local viewing mountain. We walked for 30 minutes to get to the mountain, passing a beautiful shrine with great sea views, anticipating a rope way ascent and revolving restaurant at the top of the mountain. Well, the start of date weekend, minus the shrine, was a bit of a fail…the ropeway has mysteriously closed until (I believe) April 2018. That is taking seasonal to the next level…you can climb the mountain on foot but by this stage we had already clocked up a few miles, so instead we stared hopelessly up the mountain and muttered about Japanese bureaucracy for a few minutes, before changing plans.
We were not deterred! Date weekend must go on. We decided instead to walk to Kitakyushu under the sea. This is basically the only thing that pops up on Google when you search for the fine city of Shimonoseki; “there is a walkway tunnel under the sea connecting two of the main islands of Japan, Honshu and Kyushu”. Yes there is. And we walked it. It is like walking along a long tube station, except there are no stressed sweaty commuters, but rather families and friends enjoying this novelty. On our arrival at the ‘other’ island, we found a pensioner stretching and warming up before taking his first step into the tunnel. I smiled, amused. Dan pointed out that once you’re in, it could be a tough 1,000m slog. Ever the logical one…
Our arrival in Kyushu led to much more walking. Our calves really got a work-out this date weekend. We had a plan to enjoy the ‘Home Made’ markets of Mojiko and Shimonoseki and stomped forth in anticipation. On route, I got weirdly freaked out by the many fishermen on the sea wall path we walked. Convinced I was in for a cheek hooking. We arrived in Mojiko, cheek hook free, to some warm spring sunshine and a nice local festival. Here we enjoyed a sensible amount of craft beer; some octopus balls for Dan; and a suggestive chocolate banana for me. And, being of the British rose complexion, on March 3rd, we both enjoyed our first sample of sunburn.
No more walking for us as we took the boat back to Shimonoseki and briefly explored the bar scene on the harbor. We had forgotten, due to our slight beer haze, that we live in a rural area. So, after pint number one at 6.30pm we discovered all the other bars had shut up shop, so it was time to go home on date day number 1.
Day two of date weekend started with a massage which doubled up as a terrible English / Japanese lesson for me, and more coffee and cake for Dan. We had our sights set on something a little special on Sunday; The Cat Café. I have had the pleasure of going before, but Dan was a Cat Café virgin and in no-way excited about sitting amongst our feline friends. Knowing him as well as I do, I knew he would love it and that his dog-loving bias would soon be a thing of the past. I was not wrong (just for the record, I am never wrong when it comes to discussions between Dan and I…)
His eyes lit up as the miniature lions played, slept and fought around us. It really is a relaxing and clean environment. The spa music plays overhead and you get sucked into the warmth of the café where cats and humans with selfie-cams co-exist peacefully. I was particularly envious of the most relaxed cat in all of Japan, as he stretched one arm over the edge of his relaxation castle. Dan now has plans to work remotely from the café each day, and I am certain that he will!
Date weekend drew to a close with an exploration of Shimonoseki’s ‘Hand Made’ market, where we enjoyed cookies and coffee and the sights of a small child having some sort of demonic seizure. Much to his parents delight. We thought the perfect final flourish of date weekend was a ride on the Shimonoseki Ferris Wheel. It dominates the skyline by the coast and with such a clear day, seemed like a brilliant idea. With a wave of inspiration I selected the glass bottom car and before I knew it we were bundled in and on our way. The first ten metres passed nicely, and then I realised what I had done and where we were. Suddenly, I was overcome with concern about the small cracks on the window and couldn’t understand why Dan kept standing up like some lunatic. I am sure the views were beautiful, but I could only see them through a dark tunnel…
The pictures Dan took on the ride seem to show the spectacular scenery over Shimonoseki and Kitakyushu. Certainly, in retrospect, it looks like a very beautiful end to a jam-packed weekend of dating in our local area!